Guide to SDN Resources

SDN Resources

When most people think of Student Doctor Network, they think of the SDN Forums, where … Read more

Q&A with Javier La Fontaine, DPM, MS, Limb Salvage Specialist

Javier La Fontaine, DPM, MS, is a professor in the Plastic Surgery Department at UT Southwestern and an attending physician at Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas, TX. He specializes in limb salvage, using his surgical and wound healing expertise to help patients—especially those with diabetes—who have been told that amputation is the only course of action available to them.

Originally hailing from Puerto Rico, Dr. La Fontaine earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. He earned DPM degree from the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in 1995 and completed his residency in Podiatric Medicine and Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 1999. He has been widely published, holds leadership roles in multiple professional societies—including the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, where he serves as a regional president, and the American Podiatric Medical Association—and has been named one of the “Most Influential 175 Podiatrists in the US” by Podiatry Magazine.

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Managing Bipolar Disorder in Medical School

Two days before interviewing at the medical school I now attend, I couldn’t get out of bed. At the nadir of my eighth major depressive episode in eight years, I seriously considered whether I could make the trip. Thankfully, I did. And thankfully, six days after that interview I met the psychiatrist who would finally piece together my long and steadily worsening psychiatric history.

I sat in his office, quiet and dulled compared to my spring and summer self, and began recounting my story – the weightiness of my current depression, the semester in college marked by a mere two to four hours of sleep a night (“insomnia” according to my doctor then), and the clockwork nature of my mood changes each year. Within ten minutes, he stopped me mid-sentence and said, almost casually, “You know, you show a lot of signs of bipolar disorder.”

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Chronicles of a Med Student: All Aboard the Financial Struggle Bus

Chronicles of a Med Student

I remember the sheer joy of ripping open the letter that granted me a medical school spot. Everything was roses and rainbows, and I was thrilled that my dreams were coming true. This cute little fantasy carried on until I received the tuition numbers a few weeks later . . . wow. I had no money, and I was being expected to pay how much? Regardless of what you hear from other people about how doctors make enough money to quickly pay back their debt, those five digits after the dollar sign per year are still scary.

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Study Smarter, Not Harder

Occasionally when I am browsing the online forums on SDN, I come across an unfortunate statement like this: “I studied so hard for my chemistry final and did horrible.” I’ve come across this problem for classes other than chemistry as well. A lot of people say they studied hard, but did they really? Until I really understood the other principles of studying, I didn’t realize that there is a lot more than just the act itself.
Some of the variables I’ve been able to come up with that impact studying are sometimes things we don’t analyze. A couple examples are sleep patterns, intrinsic motivation, breaks, contacting your professor, repetitive intervals, studying like it’s your job, remembering the ultimate goal and of course having fun when your not studying. I personally have to constantly remind myself to remain vigilant of everything I do and how it will impact my studying. Just remember that every test counts, so make the best possible outcome for yourself by following some of these tips.

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20 Questions: Jeffrey M. Whitaker, DPM, FACFAS

Dr. Jeffrey Whitaker knew at a very young age that he wanted to be a doctor, though his specialty remained uncertain until he discovered podiatric medicine as an undergraduate pre-med student. Having graduated Magna Cum Laude with his Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from California State University-Long Beach, he later completed a second Bachelor in Cell and Molecular Biology with San Francisco State University, followed by the successful completion of his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree from the California College of Podiatric Medicine, which is now Samuel Merritt University. Dr. Whitaker graduated from the DPM program with Honors, ranking 4th in his class, and completed his three-year foot and ankle surgery residency with Western Pennsylvania Hospital, in Pittsburgh.

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What Can You Learn From Reflecting on Your MCAT Test Day Experience?

The MCAT is a significant hurdle that all students who wish to attend medical school must overcome. However, even after you have successfully completed the exam, you can continue to learn from your testing experience by reflecting on the test day itself.
Below are four areas of reflection that can provide you with additional insight about your future as a physician. Do not neglect to consider them!
1. How you learn best 
Many students experiment with a variety of study and test-taking strategies when preparing for the MCAT. After identifying which methods are most successful, they ultimately settle on a framework that works best for them. Throughout this process, you will likely discover how you study most efficiently and most effectively, which is an invaluable tool as you move forward to medical school.

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Should You Retake the MCAT? A Guide to Evaluating Your Score

Deciding to complete the MCAT for a second time is a decision that can have a significant impact on your chances of being admitted to medical school. It is vital that you correctly assess your first MCAT score to determine if retaking the MCAT is best for you. As a general rule of thumb, if your result is five or more points below your goal score, you should consider sitting for the exam again. However, there are also several factors to examine before solidifying your decision.

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If I Had a Million Dollars (But I Don’t)

Someday, after years of school (then more school) and residency training, we will start earning doctors’ salaries. In the meantime, finances can be tight, but there are ways to cut costs, optimize the money you do have, and maybe even bring in a little extra on the side.
There’s an old moniker you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. It’s hard to make a budget if you don’t know what you’re spending currently. Take a few weeks and keep track, ideally a full month. Write down everything, regardless of how you pay for it – cash, check, credit card, bitcoin. . . Even if you have a 0% interest credit card and won’t be paying it off for a while, write it down. Then, consider your monthly income. If you’re ending the month in the black – congratulations! You’re on the right track. You may still want to decrease your expenses to reduce your overall loan burden. If you find your monthly cost of living exceeding your income, it is definitely worth your while to take a hard look at what you’re spending and how to cut back.

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Why I Chose Podiatry School

For many students looking for a career in healthcare, allopathic medical school is the only option that they have considered. While information exists on podiatry as a professional career choice, it can be missed behind the stacks of information on allopathic and osteopathic medicine.

Podiatry school, or podiatric medical school, is very similar to its allopathic and osteopathic medical school counterparts, with some key differences.  The biggest difference is the degree earned.  A graduate of podiatric medical school receives a doctoral degree of podiatric medicine, or a DPM.  This degree certifies the graduate to be a complete and specialized physician of the foot and ankle.

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